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Sunkit – a report

The notable journalist Ahrvid Engholm, a Sunkit regular since several years, shares his personal experience from an evening at Sunkit.

Sunkit is the name of the music club run every first Monday of the month by Burt von Bolton and New-Magnum Nilsson, in the basement of the Broderna Olsson garlic restaurant in Stockholm. The name comes from "sunkigt", which means approx worn down, trashy or so (it has nothing to do with the sun, a kit or sinking). There they play music that’s so bad or strange that it’s (unintentionally) funny.

Every Sunkit Monday is full. I often see science fiction fans there (like Martin from Kapten Stofil, and others may turn up too) among all the others, and we have our regular gang standing in a corner discussing strange things and singing along as a particulary popular tune starts up.

The evening of December 5th, 2005 I first saw Martin (he and I exchanged some DVD films for mutual borrowing) and Trampe (who borrowed my VHS of that obscure Swedish sf film I was leg stand-in in). Shortly Rosalba turned up, and Lejde (who said the regular Dan, who seldom missed Sunkit, was too broke and tired to come), Adrian (he’s British), and a few other hangarounds and friends. Since I’ve been going to Sunkit for many years I tend to know some outside our group too, at least by sight, like The Architects or the Norrkoping guy or Marina who used to do the Fantasy Festival.

Sing along is one of the points of Sunkit. The audience of perhaps 150 people (the basement isn’t very big) know the 50-100 most popular tunes by heart. The evening usually starts with 1-2 hours of new discoveries, and later comes the old favourites. The crowd drinks beer (I had Coca-Cola left over from a preview of a film I arrived directly from) and sings and dances along. It’s the songs that makes it work.

What is the Sunkit music based on? Or "sunkedelic" music, as some prefer to call it. The issue and the club was dealt with early Monday in TV’s Good Morning Sweden, where the Sunkit fan Anna-Lena Lodenius – once my journalism teacher, btw – talked about sunkedelic Christmas Songs, something she collects and plays as DJ on the Sunkit Xmas shows.

There are several sunkedelic genres:

  • The so called dance bands that tour the Swedish countryside. They are an endless and rich source of stupidity, like The Moustache about this guy who tries to hook the girls but is beaten every time by the guy with a moustache, or Here Comes Martensson (based on Let’s Twist Again) about this guy winning the lottery and having such a party at the hotel the police carries him away, not to forget the classic What Do You Have Under the Blouse, Ruth?.
  • Individually very creative songwriters. Few can match Thore Skogman, who can literally do lyrics out of anything and always uses the rhyme that first pops up in the top of his head, or Lasse Holm, responsible for the Pizza Song, many Eurovision classics, sports songs etc.
  • Sports song is a rich source. Popular this evening was for instance the national Swedish ice-hockey team singing
    OK, now we’ve got them, no we’ve got them
    So fight on, and don’t let go, you Mother Svea’s best team!
    Most teams and sports have their incredibly strange songs.
  • General PR songs and theme songs shouldn’t be forgotten. Cities and towns often feel it is absolutely unavoidable to hire some rhyme-hack to create a PR song. My favourite city song is
    Most people in Sodertalje are born in Sodertalje
    Some have moved there
    But some have moved away

    The RFSU song is rather enjoyable (to the tune of YMCA by Village People) telling everyone the joys available from the National Association for Sexual Enlightment, which can actually turn you into a "Kamasutra fanatic".
  • The Eurovision Song Contest is a gold mine, or rather the Swedish runner-up contest. A total classic is opera singer Loa Falkman’s The Symphony, with lyrics telling us a symphony will bring us together as one people.
  • Children singing are an endless resource. We have eg It’s so sweet to to talk to a horse or Mom, come and wipe me – I’m finished.
  • Sex is not to be discounted. Dirty song albums were sold through ads in the nude girls magazines in older days. One master of this genre was the illustrious Johnny Bode who probably forever will be remembered for his Come and wank me off with white gloves.
  • Various other sources. Like people who really think they can sing, but can’t, but as the rest of the world won’t recognize their genious they go ahead and pay for a record themselves. Or well-known tunes in other languages, like Yellow Submarine in German or disco hits in Finnish (Kung-Fu Fighting strikes me). Has anybody heard Any Women can be a Lesbian?

This is just to give you some understanding of sunkedelia. Or rather, if it can be understood is in doubt – but you can at least recognize it, enjoy it and sing along.

Me and Martin discussed Johnny Bode and I hope to later borrow his biography. Bode was a real scoundrel without any ethics whatsoever; he joined the Nazis during WWII but then tried to cheat even them. Trampe tried to sell his idea of a sunkedelic band and noted a known Swedish fan whose father was in that porno flick had made inquiries about it. Rosalba, that lively Italian (living in Sweden since many years) enjoyed the Pizza Song (I learned that a bussola is a compass), and also told me she had extra-work as cleaning lady for the SF Bookstore in Stockholm. An interesting newcomer was Stefan, who does independent TV documentaries. He had lots of stories (you sort of half shout some sort of dialogue between and during songs) and said he had access to unique material from the big SVT company archives, like the national idols and entertainers Hasse & Tage’s attempts in English (Martin wanted a copy and I hope to be next in line for that.)

On Sunkit you tend to get a lot of gossip, that is – gossip about entertainers and showbiz from many decades ago!

There have been Super Evenings on Sunkit; we all remember when Martin let lose his Casanova genes and had all the lovesick girls surrounding him. (My report from that became legendary.) I was a bit tired and went home before twelve (Sunkit closes at 1 AM, always with Lasse Berghagen’s syrup-sleazy It’s the end, it’s the end, it’s over now), but it was a nice Sunkit evening. Until then I had sang along until my voice simply gave up, but stayed away from the crowded dance floor. It was so crowded that if the ladies came any closer to the wall where our gang was positioned, I’d have to report them for rape.

Finally a warning: If you dare to challenge your estethics and taste by visiting Sunkit, it will take you a couple of tries to get the hang of the place, before you know what it’s all about and you start to learn fragments of lyrics for the sing along.

By Ahrvid Engholm

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